My divorce was finalized last Friday. I found it satisfying and somewhat poetic the my marriage, which began on 2/2 ended on 3/3. If you have never gone through a divorce, one thing you might not know is that your emotions and reactions during the process are sometimes surprising. So, on the day of my divorce I woke up not knowing what to expect. Would I be sad, angry, hurt? Well shockingly, I was giddy.
You see this whole divorce process has felt riddled with uncertainty and instability. Having the finalization from the court was closure. It was the clear end to that chapter of my life and I cannot blame myself for being super excited to start the next chapter.
The trial was not bad. We had an uncontested divorce so there was no fighting and all the arrangements had been agreed to in advance, so basically I just had to tell the story of what happened and reiterate what was in the agreement. That was a blessing. My ex did not even show up to the trial, since he was not required to. I’m not sure how I felt about that. On the one hand, it was easier not to see him, on the other, I wanted him to have to acknowledge the end of our marriage, I wanted him to see me describe the photographic evidence of his infidelity so he would have to confront what he had done. I wanted him to see the judge ask me if I had forgiven him and hear me answer that I had. (This was not the answer the judge was looking for so I had to clarify lol: Forgiveness did not mean that I wanted him back or that I condoned his actions, it meant that I was moving on with my life and letting go of his actions). But you know what? In divorce you don’t always get what you want and perhaps those were selfish desires anyway.
After the trial was over, I fought off a huge grin while my lawyer debriefed me, thinking that it would be an inappropriate time to smile. However, as he walked to the elevator, he caught me in a happy heel click. “I’m so excited” I sang as I danced out of the courthouse “and I just can’t hide it.” I was shocked that I didn’t feel an ounce of sadness in that moment.
With that said, I don’t want to diminish the fact that divorce is hard. It is a major grieving event, like losing a loved one, and if you are facing a divorce, you will likely go through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Although I am still relatively new in the divorce process, I wanted to share 5 things that I have learned along the way to help you if you are going through something similar:
- Forgiveness helps YOU- As I mentioned before forgiving my ex was a huge step forward. When you hold on to anger and resentment you become bitter and only hurt yourself. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what your ex did was ok, it just means that you are moving on and not letting his or her actions get in your way. Even if you are not feeling forgiving, saying that you forgive your ex or want to forgive your ex will help you find the strength to forgive.
- Use this as an opportunity to improve yourself- While its easy to get dragged down by the negatives of divorce, there are many good things that come with it as well. Sometimes the separation can open up new opportunities to go back to school, to start a new job, to move, or simple to find a better relationship and start over. Its also an opportunity to look at what you did wrong in the relationship (yes everyone has fault, even if that fault was just choosing the wrong person to marry) and trying to improve yourself for your next relationship.
- If you have kids be their rock- During a divorce, you may have all kinds of crazy impulses of things to do to your ex. DON’T. Especially if you have kids. If you have kids with this person, they will always be in your life and it is in your kids best interest if you can maintain a civil relationship. Before you act, ask yourself “Is this the best thing for my kids?” Your kids had no fault in the destruction of your marriage and yet they have to face the consequences. Do your best to be their rock and take actions only in their best interest. Don’t use your kids as a pawn to make your ex angry, it will only hurt them.
- Give yourself time to heal, find support- I consider myself a goal oriented achiever and this divorce really had me sitting on the sidelines for a while. Even now I still feel like I am playing with a handicap. Its easy for me to get frustrated with myself, but that is not helpful or healthy. Give yourself time to feel better. Go to a counselor or support group. Surround yourself with people you love. Healing is a process, it doesn’t happen over night.
- Take the high road- This has been my mantra throughout the divorce process. It was given to me by a wise friend (you know who you are). Although, sometimes my feelings have gotten the best of me and I have had me moments where I acted impulsively, overall I try to take the high road and do what is right and what is best for my kids. If you stick to that, you will avoid many of the pitfalls people fall into that cause more problems and more drama.
If you are going through a divorce, my thoughts are with you. Do you have any advice to share?
Here are some books I recommend for coping with the divorce process:
Getting Past Your Break-Up
Getting Back Out There